Knowing When It’s Time to Move Your Loved One to Palliative Care
Industry Perspective At no time is the role of family caregiver more challenging than when a loved one is facing a serious or life-limiting illness.
It hurts to watch a loved one struggle with pain, depression, fatigue, or the side effects of medication. In addition to the duties of a caregiver, other related complications can include financial hardships, family discord and the physical toll of caring for someone who is seriously ill. No wonder family caregivers often feel sad, angry, tired, sometimes resentful—and often guilty!
What ails you?
Much as you may love the person you care for, it's still hard work. And the more help they need, the more that falls on your plate.
Could you use help with:
- Bathing and grooming your loved one?
- Managing pain and other distressing symptoms?
- 24-hour phone support for your caregiving questions?
- Advice regarding insurance and other financial assistance?
- Someone to talk to about emotional or spiritual issues?
- Concerns about your loved one's treatment and side effects?
- Assistance with a family meeting?
If you answered yes to any of the above, then you may benefit from the support of a palliative care or hospice program.
"Hospice focuses on relieving symptoms and supporting patients with a life expectancy of months not years, and their families."
Hospice and palliative care both focus on helping a person be comfortable by addressing issues causing physical or emotional pain or suffering. Importantly, support and training is provided to the family caregivers to help them better manage the journey during a difficult illness.
The goals of palliative care are to improve the quality of a seriously ill person’s life and to support that person and his or her family during and after treatment. A palliative care program will likely offer consultations with professionals who can guide you and your loved one through the difficulties of living day-to-day with a serious illness. You do not have to give up curative care to receive these services.
Hospice focuses on relieving symptoms and supporting patients with a life expectancy of months not years, and their families. Hospice services, like palliative care, are provided by a team of professionals that can include nurses, doctors, social workers, counselors, home health aides, even trained volunteers who can be especially helpful to caregivers who might need a break or even a friendly person to talk with.
What’s holding you back?
Hospice services are covered 100 percent by Medicare. This includes medications, and other forms of help like physical therapy, equipment like a hospital bed or oxygen dispenser, and for family caregivers they offer bereavement services for a year after the death of the patient.
One of the most frequent comments that hospice and palliative care professionals hear from the family caregivers they support is "I wish we had known about you sooner!” If you think you could benefit from palliative care or hospice services, contact a local hospice and palliative care provider. They should be happy to help you learn what services might be appropriate for you or your loved one.
No one should have to go through the challenges of a serious or life-limiting illness alone, your local hospice and palliative care program can help.